Cllr Glenn Lester Resigns

Last year’s deputy chairman of Southborough Town Council, Glenn Lester, has resigned from the council.

A by-election in High Brooms will be held to fill Cllr Lester’s seat.

glenn-crop-picGlenn Lester told Southborough News:

“I have been struggling with work and council commitments for the past 2 years and now the hub is on track and all the ducks are in a row I have taken the opportunity to step back.

I also became tired of all the party politics of STC , there seems to be a desire to put party before community and I never volunteered to fight, I volunteered to improve our little Town.

That said I do believe the 17 other councillors all do have Southborough best interests at heart.

I will look forward to the Hub from the eyes of a resident instead of a councillor and wish STC the very best of luck bring forward a fantastic asset for us all.”

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Utility Firms Blamed For “Delay” to Southborough Hub Clearance Work

Kent County Council says there will be a further chance for residents to have their say on the look of the Southborough Hub.  It says it will consult on: “the various conditions within the planning application, including the cladding for the building”.

Meanwhile, a statement on Friday from Jonathan White of KCC said: “Demolition which is currently under way on the Hub site has been delayed due to issues with utility providers being unwilling to disconnect services in a timely manner. Onsite demolition should be complete in the next couple of weeks”.

New homes map

Later this month, the preferred housing developer, Crest Nicholson, will be seeking residents’ views on its detailed designs for the 69 new apartments to be built on part of the playing fields.  (The area outlined in red above).

The exhibition will be at Southborough Library, from 3-8pm on Tuesday, 27 June. Crest Nicholson says the design proposals include:
* Development capped at 3 storeys, as opposed to a maximum of 5 storeys permitted under the Outline permission
*Significantly more parking than the Outline scheme
* Higher quality, more functional public space

The other points from Friday’s KCC statement are:

“The Tesco site and the rear of the Lloyds bank land has been purchased by KCC. The Lloyds building has been purchased by JVIP ltd who previously refurbished the old Flying Dutchman Pub across the road.

The residential development has been on the market and a purchaser has been selected. Negotiations are now underway and due diligence is being done prior to finalising the sale.

Work is progressing on the detailed designs of the Hub that will allow the project to go out to tender for the construction of the facility. The project has engaged a theatre consultant to advise on specialist elements.

The Assembly Hall Theatre team at Tunbridge Wells Council are keen to take on the running of the new hall/theatre for a trial period of two years, working with Southborough Town Council to assess demand and long term sustainability. This will be the subject of a report to Cabinet at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in September, when a final decision will be made.

Working with the football club, the project continues to seek to secure FA Grant funding for the pavilion. A bid for up to £500k is expected in July subject to confirmation from the FA foundation on timelines.

The GP surgery is progressing however the NHS are seeking to include a number of additional services into the facility which could impact on timelines and are subject to further discussions.

Work is progressing with potential developers and landowners to determine whether adjacent facilities in need of improvements can be done in tandem with the project coming forward.

The project will seek to enter into agreements for lease with the shop, café, football pavilion, community/theatre element and GP surgery before the contract to build the facility is signed. The project has received numerous approaches on many of these elements and will be dealing with them in due course.

The draft S106 agreement is ready to be signed so that the planning can be validated. It cannot currently be signed as the land it binds is still owned by TWBC and the borough cannot enter into a contract with itself. KCC will need to call the TWBC land once demolition of their buildings has been completed, the S106 can then be signed and the planning is validated.”

 

 

 

The KCC person in charge of the project can be contacted at:
jonathan.white@kent.gov.uk

Southborough’s Best View Threatened By New Housing

New housing development threatens Southborough’s most beautiful views into Sussex  and residents only have until 5pm on Monday 12th June to register their objections as part of a Borough Council consultation on new developments.

Residents who use the picturesque footpath from Birchwood Avenue into Birch Wood have discovered a map which appears to suggest Camp Field is allocated for new housing. Camp Field apparently takes its name because it was where King Harold camped on his way to the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

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Arthur Hull (above) who has lived in nearby Hardinge Way for 25 years told Southborough News: “It would be a complete tragedy to take this field when there are so many brownfield sites to build on.”

Mr Hull said: “It is too ludicrous for words to build homes here.  It is a haven for wildlife. There are nightingales, skylarks, grass snakes, doormice and adders.”

P1110485Arthur Hull walks his dog along the path, which leads to the Bidborough’s popularly named “bomb crater” as well as the Birch Wood.  Mr Hull said: “It is a very crafty system.  If the consultation approves a strategy of developing this area, then the next phase of a planning application for the field would just be a rubber stamp.”

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The field is currently owned by John Foster, who according to local people lives in Tonbridge.  The field is currently used for hay and for grazing sheep.  It is bordered by ancient woodland on two sides.

In the past few weeks, leaflets have been left for passing residents, alerting them to the threat. (see below)

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The Tunbridge Wells Borough Council consultation can be found at this link:
http://bit.ly/2rTleWM

It is a lengthy document to wade through and begins by declaring: “The Issues and Options document sets out some questions and identifies a number of possible options for where and how the future growth of the borough might be located”.

Central government policy has now switched to prioritising  more house building and giving less weight to local planning objections. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has been told to prepare a strategy to build another 10,000 homes in the next 15 years. The Borough’s current population is around 120,000.

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Camp Field is both on Green Belt land and within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. However, those allocations no longer guarantee the land can be protected from development as a large number of the potential building sites in the Borough also have this designation.

A leaflet being distributed states: “The Camp Field (site 45) has been put forward as a potential housing development site.  There is an important opportunity now, as part of the Local Plan Consultation, to oppose the inclusion of the site in the plan.”

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It is suggested that objections are placed at Question 19 in the lengthy form. In addition the leaflet argues “under Section 5 Question 10, identify your preferred option – as a suggestion 4 and/or 5 would probably be best.” These are options for development along the A21 or in a new settlement of 5,000 homes.

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Another local resident declared: “All of Tunbridge Wells is under threat. We found out by accident about this idea a month ago.  Extremely valuable views could be lost”.

The footpath (shown below) to the north of the field is used by hundreds of walkers every day.

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The second local resident argued: “The only hope is that the council decide to prioritise for housing the areas near the newly improved A21 rather than develop areas that would add to traffic on the already overcrowded A26.”

Other concerned residents have questioned why Southborough Town Council decided not to draw up its own Neighbourhood Plan to link into the process – an option that was taken up by Paddock Wood in order to allow more debate among residents about priorities.

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Royal Victoria Hall’s Valuable Bricks are For Sale in East Farleigh

A massive reclamation effort by a Kent firm means the heritage of the tens of thousands of bricks from the demolished Royal Victoria Hall will live on in new buildings.

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A team of workers from a family business run by Tony Caudwell has been carefully removing the mortar from the RVH’s Victorian bricks and placing them into stacks of 500 bricks. (See picture below showing site on Friday)

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The brick stacks have all been securely wrapped in plastic, lifted by crane onto trucks and taken to Mr Caudwell’s massive reclamation yard in East Farleigh near Maidstone. They are now available for sale.

It’s thought there may be around 20,000 bricks from the RVH, valued at up to £ 1.50 each.  There are three types: red wire cut, multi stocks and the most valuable “facing reds” (shown below before demolition).

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There is no sign so far of any interest in a bulk purchase for a specific project using solely the heritage bricks from the RVH. The bricks are thought to have been manufactured locally at the High Brooms brickworks around 120 years ago.

Tony Caudwell’s yard in East Farleigh has been operating for 45 years and now has around half a million reclaimed bricks and is shown below:

brick-yard crop

Mr Caudwell’s full contact details are:
Yew Tree Cottage, Heath Road, East Farleigh, Maidstone, Kent ME15 0LR
Telephone: 01622 746 225
Tony Caudwell mobile: 07802 412 191
Eddie Finch mobile: 07894 463 795

Email is:
sales@reclaimedbricksandyorkstone.co.uk

His website explains that reclaimed bricks: “are a popular option for many customers because they provide great character and a timeless, quality finish. However it can be more expensive because of sourcing and laying costs, so finding the right reclaimed building materials specialist is of paramount importance.”